This past high school baseball season featured many student-athletes thriving on the diamond. The 2021 Rome News-Tribune All-Area Baseball Team arrives with two prominent seniors featured as Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year.
After pitching 66 1/3 innings with a 9-1 record and a 0.95 ERA, Model senior Rett Edwards is this year’s RN-T Pitcher of the Year. Edwards, who has committed to Calhoun Community College in Alabama, recorded a whopping 108 strikeouts with his sub-1.00 ERA. He threw two no hitters and a perfect game in a three-inning contest.
“He had an unbelievable year for us,” Blue Devils head coach Brandon Patch said in a phone interview. “He was our ace pitcher (and) he’s a multi-year starter at Model. He’s just a really tough competitor.”
Offensively, Edwards hit .268 with seven doubles, two home runs, 17 runs scored and 21 RBIs. Edwards earned a Region 7-AA first-team spot as Pitcher of the Year and was selected to the Class AA All-State First Team.
“He’s one of those kids that really enjoys the moment,” Patch said. “He’s a very fun kid to be around. Very upbeat, great personality. Just an awesome kid and I’m happy for him.”
In addition to being named Region 7-AA Player of the Year, Pepperell senior Chase Gresham is this year’s RN-T Player of the Year. Gresham, who is signed with Shorter University, hit .366 in 2021 with 37 hits (29 singles, two doubles, three triples, three home runs), 29 RBIs, 36 runs scored and 10 stolen bases.
“You want him in the box with the game on the line,” Dragons head coach Chad Brown said in a phone interview. “No moment that I found has ever been to big for him. Chase Gresham goes out there and hits a two-run home run and he’s the same kid as if he’d struck out looking.”
Gresham also saw time on the pitcher’s mound, going 20 1/3 innings throughout 2021 with a 2-0 record and 25 strikeouts to his name. He was named to the All-State first team along with fellow Dragon Kolby Davis.
“He’d never pitched before in his life,” Brown said. “A lot of times, when you’re that guy for the team, when you’re that leader, you’re usually not playing five or six different spots. You’ve got your spot nailed down and you go play it, but that wasn’t him. It was whatever you need me to do, I’m going to go get the job done.”
Here is the rest of the first team, in alphabetical order by last name.
Jake Ashley, C — Model Jr.Junior catcher Jake Ashley played a major role in Model’s 2021 season. Ashley batted .386 with 39 hits, consisting to 13 doubles, two home runs and 31 RBIs. From a defensive standpoint, he caught 204 innings with just six passed balls.
Thomas Bethel, 2B — Darlington Soph.
Thomas Bethel led Darlington with a .400 batting average through the entirety of the 2021 campaign. In 23 games played, Bethel recorded 26 hits and nine RBIs. He drew 18 walks and only struck out six times. Bethel was named to the Region 7-A Private first team and was an all-state honorable mention.
Trevor Caldwell, P — Rockmart Jr.
Trevor Caldwell represents the Yellow Jackets on the all-area list after winning five games during the 2021 season, recording a remarkable 102 strikeouts with a 1.30 ERA. He only surrendered 10 earned runs, and would be named to the Region 6-AAA First Team and all-state second team.
Trent Cantrell, SS, 3B — Coosa, Soph.
Coosa’s Trent Cantrell makes an appearance on this list after clubbing a .426 batting average during the 2021 Eagles campaign. He picked up 30 hits (one HR), 20 RBIs and scored 25 runs. He was named to the Region 7-AA First Team and all-state second team.
Dylan Cupp, SS — Cedartown Soph.
Cupp was impressive for Cedartown, notching a .405 batting average for the year. He recorded 32 walks, drove in 19 runs and stole 38 bases. He was named the Region 7-AAAA Player of the Year and First Team All State.
Corben Cuzzort, P/3B — Cedartown Sr.
Like his Cedartown teammate, Cuzzort earns a spot on the list as both a batter and a pitcher. His .306 batting average led to 16 RBIs, 21 stolen bases, 17 runs scored while generating 17 walks.
Pitching-wise, Cuzzort recorded a 7-3 overall mark with a 2.40 ERA and 39 strikeouts. He was designated a first-team pitcher from Region 7-AAAA and made first-team all state.
Kolby Davis, C — Pepperell Jr.
Pepperell had its fair share of bats throughout the year and Kolby Davis was no exception to that. The junior catcher hit .425 in 2021 with 34 hits, 20 RBIs and 12 walks. He caught 162 2/3 innings for the Dragons and allowed 12 passed balls.
Cade Dingler, IF/OF — Cedartown Sr.
Cade Dingler hit .367 on the year with 28 RBIs, 18 runs scored, 14 stolen bases while garnering 16 walks. Dingler was named to the Region 7-AAAA and all state first teams.
Caleb Ellard, P/ULT — Rome Sr.
You might know Caleb Ellard as a quarterback for the Rome Wolves football team, but did you know Ellard’s a pretty good baseball player too? As a pitcher, he earned a 6-3 record with a 1.90 ERA and 63 strikeouts. Offensively, he notched a .315 batting average, smashed five home runs and collected 30 RBIs.
He has signed with Mercer University baseball in Macon.
Hayden Filetti, P — Rome Sr.
Rome had some talented pitchers and that was evident in senior pitcher Hayden Filetti. Filetti was a mainstay in Rome’s starting rotation, pitching 57 1/3 innings and earning 88 strikeouts to go along with his ERA of 1.58. He completed his senior year with a record of 4-3.
Josh Land, 1B — Model Sr.
Land became a perennial power at first base, smashing .358 with 34 hits (nine doubles, one triple and seven home runs), 33 RBIs and scoring 27 runs. Land finished 2021 with a .957 fielding percentage as the Blue Devils made it to the Sweet 16. He was named the Region 7-AA Offensive Player of the Year and an All-State honorable mention.
Jack Rush, OF — Armuchee Sr.
The senior outfielder from Armuchee High School maintained a .412 batting average through 2021. Rush registered 33 hits and 21 RBIs, which included six doubles and two triples. He also had a fielding percentage of .976.
Bryson Thacker, CF/Pitcher — Coosa Soph.
Bryson Thacker go it done both in the batter’s box and on the mound. Offensively, he crushed a .467 batting average with 43 hits, 12 RBIs, 30 runs scored and 17 stolen bases. Pitching-wise, he delivered 56 innings and earned seven wins with a 1.37 ERA and 93 strikeouts.
Thacker was named Region 7-AA pitcher of the year, along with Model’s Rett Edwards. Thacker was also second-team all state.
Johnathan Vigoa, C — Rome Jr.
Vigoa is the second Rome Wolf on the list. The junior catcher smacked a .446 batting average through 2021 with two home runs, 17 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. He was named to the Region 5-AAAAAA first team and all-state second team.